John Cadiz Klemack
California's new Homeowner Bill of Rights sounds like the solution for people like Mary Gonsalves -- she doesn t have many options left to keep her home in West Hollywood. John Cadiz Klemack reports from West Hollywood for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on July 11, 2012.
Locked out of her West Hollywood home, Mary Gonsalves lives on one side of a duplex she bought in 2006. The other side is empty. Soon, her side may be empty, as well.
"Why do they only listen to the bank?" she muses, as she considers her predicament.
Gonsalves shows anyone who will listen a mound of papers, court documents and complaints she filed when the thousands of dollars she paid to loan modification attorneys did no good. She also has a copy of a letter begging her bank to help her refinance.
That was in 2009.
She says the bank told her a year later she didn't qualify. Then, two weeks ago, a legal document appeared on her door telling her she had to leave by June 25. That's when she filed for bankruptcy.
"Very, very embarrassing," she said.
She is also a caregiver for her 86-year-old mother. Without some kind of help, she's afraid her mom's final days will not go well.
"So I live in fear," she said.
And that's not all. The bank that holds her mortgage is trying to sell the house.
Gonsalves admits it's complicated, but she believes the paper trail will give her power under the new Homeowner Bill of Rights, a collection of bills that were signed Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
California before the first state in the nation Wednesday to apply laws to all mortgage lenders. The legislation prohibits banks from practicing dual track -- that is, continuing with the foreclosure process while the mortgage holder modifies their loan -- and requiring lending institutions to provide one point of contact for homeowners seeking help.
Gonsalves' story may be more complicated than most, but she is not the only one facing foreclosure.
Angela McClain, of Crenshaw, says she was the victim of dual tracking.
"I was told that my paperwork was being reviewed by an underwriter and at the same time I got a notice that they were gonna foreclose on my home," McClain said.
Michelle Lopez, of La Puente, says she was continuously transferred from person to person around her bank and says sometimes they claimed to have no record of her foreclosure process.
Attorney General Kamala Harris says the legislations sends a clear message to lending institutions: "We are done with the abusive tacts and empty promises, we're done."
The California Chamber of Commerce opposed the legislation claiming provisions in the laws will invite litigations and delay, elongating the foreclosure crisis and making the banks less likely to lend.
But for Gonsalves, the historic decision makes her think she might have a court case against the bank.
"Why does it have to go there?" Gonsalves said. "We’re human beings. Can we talk? Please can we talk? That’s it. I’ll work with you if you work with me. A human heart to a human heart, that’s it."
Information on the California Homeowner Bill of Rights is at the website of Attorney General Kamala Harris, who supported the bill.
More more details on avoiding foreclosure are available from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.